A newly discovered protein structure involved in the immune response in mice may hold clues to preventing inflammatory diseases, a recent study has found.
Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, the German Cancer Research Center and University of Bonn, both Germany, and Yale University, USA, looked at how a protein (NLRP10) works by studying mice that were genetically modified to lack the protein.
The team saw that NLRP10 was responsible for forming a ‘bundle’ of proteins known as an inflammasome, which act as detectors of infection or tissue damage in the body and trigger inflammation as a protective response.
Previously, inflammasomes were thought to work in immune cells, but the team saw the new type was found in the cells lining the gut.
This could mean the inflammasome may be able to help with treating inflammatory bowel disease, which can start by causing damage to the gut lining.
Prof Eran Elinav, at Weizmann, said: “The next step is to find out whether the new inflammasome works in humans in the same way as in mice. We might then be able to create a drug that would activate it, so as to speed healing or prevent the damage to tissues that occurs in inflammatory diseases of skin or the intestines.”
For more on how genetically modified mice are used in biomedical research read this recent article, by Camille Bello, in Euronews.